With the advent of the Christmas season, I encourage you to take a walk around your neighborhood. As you breathe in the cool air and warm your hands in your pockets, notice the nativity scenes that may adorn your neighbors’ doorsteps or front lawns. Slow down. Stop to consider the humble beginnings of our Lord. Imagine the power that entered the world in that little Person with ten little fingers and ten little toes.
An unfathomable event, the incarnation of Christ would result in granting us a powerful gift should we accept it: salvation. Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote, “Let us go to Calvary to learn how we may be forgiven. And then let us linger there to learn how to forgive.” One of the great provisions in our salvation, accomplished through the incarnate work of Christ at Calvary, is reconciliation. Reaching both vertically and horizontally, reconciliation in Christ removes the enmity that exists between God and humanity because of sin.
Both the manger and the Cross symbolize two grand attributes of God: mercy and justice. With mercy for humanity Christ entered the world, adopting human form. With justice He died on a cross to pay for our sins. How can God demand justice and at the same time extend mercy? Therein lays a healthy theological tension: a holy God must demand justice, while at the same time as a merciful God, He must express infinite love. Perfectly holy, God alone qualified to satisfy His own justice, and He chose to appease Himself through Christ. Such an act of justice also became an act of mercy.
The Cross not only reminds us of the intersection of God’s two great attributes-justice and mercy-it also serves as a fitting reminder that our reconciliation, initiated by God through the incarnation and intercession of Jesus Christ, should be reflected in the horizontal relationships of our lives to enhance the community of saints. The moral imperative for those of us who have received mercy is to grant mercy. One day General James Olglethorpe said to John Wesley, “I never forgive.” Wesley replied, “Then I hope, Sir, that you never sin.”
As you take those long walks with your family this Christmas season, savor the smells of evergreens and fires burning in the fireplace. Breathe deeply and remember the Savior’s sacrifice as He spread open His arms and breathed His last to reconcile us to God. We walk in grace and forgiveness because of Christ’s journey from the manger to the cross to the Father’s right hand.